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Motivational government

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Midnight is approaching, my 24 hours of wizbang posting time is almost up, and it remains to be seen if the slipper will fit or not. I thought I would end with a post that was a little more upbeat. With the policies of the current administration conservative blog posts about the government are often negative and with good reason. But amongst all the negativity one might wonder what is an example of something a government could be doing that would be viewed as positive.

For me the answer is simple--space exploration. Recently a photo was taken from Mars that captured both the Earth, Jupiter and several moons in the same frame (hat tip: gizmodo). Click the thumbnail to see the full image. Warning: It is large but completely worth it.

For just a fraction of this year's deficit, the United States could put humans on Mars. The wonder and sense of accomplishment the country felt with the moon landing could be ours again. I realize that economic and defense concerns come first. But the potential gains are so great and the price is so very small in comparison that I dream of a time when we might dare to undertake the unknown and the never-done once again.


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Comments (6)

This administration, if not... (Below threshold)

This administration, if not this generation, cannot look beyond the next shady real estate deal to see the horizon, much less the stars.

Yes, for a mere pittance of... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Yes, for a mere pittance of what the Democrats have squandered on their supporters the space program could have benefited beyond their most fervent dreams...

Right now because 'The Won' cannot make up his mind there are thousands of engineers and technicians getting laid off because contractors are unsure if their programs will continue or if they are going to be shut down due to lack of funding.

Why settle for Mars? Dennis... (Below threshold)
Nancy's Nazi:

Why settle for Mars? Dennis Kookspinich has friends further away we could visit.

The Big Government mindset ... (Below threshold)
KeithK:

The Big Government mindset of Apollo probably set us back a couple of decades in terms of the development of space. Throwing big money at the problem so that a couple of government employees can walk on Mars won't do much to make the US a true space faring nation. Look at how NASA is currently screwing up Ares, etc.

NASA has a role in technology development and as a consumer of space services/products but we shouldn't be relying on them to do everything.

The colonization of the Ame... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

The colonization of the Americas (north, central, and south) provides the best example for understanding how a movement to Mars might occur. The central issue is whether the new land enables materials and goods to be obtained that are valuable to the source of the people who go there -- either extractive (the Spanish sought gold) or productive (the English produced lumber, cotton, rice, tobacco, furs, sugar, rum, etc.).

The items send from the new land must be sufficiently valuable to the home populations that there is a market for them even when taking into account the transportation costs of sending people and capital there, and moving the materials back to the home population.

The key to motivating Mars colonization will be to investigate whether Mars has the potential of producing such valuable items, as compared to items produced on earth, that the capital and transport costs are recovered. This will also require that on earth, there is a trustworthy legal and judicial system that protects the Mars investors. The existence of such a relatively reliable system in England and its American colonies in the 1600s and 1700s, compared to the lack of such a system in Spain and its American possessions, was a key factor in the more productive development of the English colonies.

Regrettably, the "national excitement" factor relating to a Mars mission is not likely to occur. The Moon is big and obvious to everyone; Mars is a tiny point of light among thousands. The mission will take years, not days. And the video at the end of it, when the astronauts step on Mars, will not look very different from the video of when the astronauts stepped on the Moon. In fact, it will be less dramatic, because the astronauts will not be hopping around so dramatically; Mars' surface gravity is 38% of Earth's, while the Moon's is 17%. The terrain is also less dramatic: Mars on the surface looks like a vast, flat, rocky desert not very different from desert locations that can be found on Earth. And because it is larger than the Moon, the curvature of the horizon is less dramatically different from typical vistas on Earth.

People who want to encourage a real, substantive human presence on Mars need to examine the substantive factors that sustain long-term human occupation of new lands, rather than hope for an emotional burst of excitement among the home population.

M Yon recently posted somet... (Below threshold)
epador:

M Yon recently posted something he wrote in December that is eerily similar:

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/afghan-lunacy.htm




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